Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Wayside
Protect Expectant Mothers and Their Babies


Saturday 29 May 2010

Absorbing Mum and Dad's Values

"When the news comes on at night, mum makes me go to my room. I’m not allowed to hear about the X girl. I heard mum say that the X girl should'a gone to England and not told anyone"
said a girl that I was at school with.

We were both seven, it was 1992, and the case of the girl called ‘X’ was storming the country. ‘X’ was a fourteen year old girl, pregnant (the father of her best friend was the baby's father)and while the Irish courts deliberated on whether they would give her leave to have an abortion in England, the story of X was splattered all over the newspapers and was the cause célèbre of Irish television. (Details of the court proceedings are available here: http://www.bailii.org/ie/cases/IESC/1992/1.html)
For us seven year olds it was like a hurricane cloud jostling above our heads – we didn’t identify with it – but I do believe that the attitudes our parents took towards the X case informed our consciences on abortion.
In total confusion, I asked my own mother ‘Well why they can’t let her go to England and have a holiday?’
‘She won’t be going to England for a holiday. She’s going to England because they want her to have an abortion’ said mum with such a grief-stricken, sorrowful voice that made me feel like someone was dying, even remembering this conversation has the power to make me numb. Then I was shown pictures of babies in the womb, and fully convinced of the personhood of the unborn from looking at the pictures I asked, ‘Well! I know! Why can’t they take the baby out now, and put him in another mummy?’ It was explained to me that in each pregnancy, there is a cord that links each baby with his mother. That you can’t take a foetus out without breaking this cord (the baby’s lifeline) and thus ending the life of the baby.
When the Supreme Court lifted the injunction preventing ‘X’ and her family from travelling to England, and ‘X’ did go to London, I did overhear a lot of discussion concerning what abortion would be performed. Books got left open, I saw a picture of the head of a foetus and there were heated phone calls where I heard my parents explain their position on why ‘X’ and her baby deserved better than abortion. This may not be the most advised way of educating a child on the reality of abortion – namely because it carries the risk of traumatising the child to the point where they might avoid all discussion of pro-life issues. But I do remember making a clear decision for myself – those who pushed the abortion debate had vested interests - I thought ‘they keep saying she’s a child and it’s dangerous for her to have her baby, but then if as they say, she’s a child, why is she being pushed through an operation?’
In contrast to the parents of my peers, mine didn’t accept that abortion should be viewed as an option in ‘The X Case’, instead they educated us as to the reality of abortion and why X’s unborn child was getting the full blame. I remember my parents spending long hours sitting with my two older brothers arguing against the pro-choice rhetoric that they had heard in school (yes – Catholic schools) and in the newspapers. If Hilary Clinton’s maxim ‘never waste a good crisis’ was put to the test, then perhaps how well my parents did is exemplified in that my two older brothers got involved in pro-life marches during the X case and one of them stood up to a pro-abortion teacher. All of this I absorbed in between looking up from my Polly Pocket dolls and learning to write my address. It was ironic that years later the girl who was at school with me, whose parents were in favour of ‘X’ going to England became pro-abortion.
It could be said that we took opposite directions - scarily in line with our parents' examples.

Mary O'Regan


  1. I remember the case - it was a set-up from start to finish. English abortion clinics were full of Irish girls and women who did not require "leave" to travel there. It was ttally geared to get anti-life views onto the agenda in Ireland and in pro-life households in the UK.

  2. There was a case here in Idaho a couple of years ago where a guy got a nine-year-old girl pregnant. I guess it should come as no surprise how much outrage was expended over the fact that the baby -- a girl -- was carried to term and delivered. It should have all been reserved for the creep who raped a little girl. You don't remedy evil by adding murder to rape.


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